July 17th, 2020
First, allow me to extend my sincere sympathies to those who are challenged with difficulties amid the novel coronavirus crisis or due to the recent storms.
I regret that today, I cannot yet address you in person. Since the beginning of the Spring Semester, I have been looking very much forward to meeting you on campus, but under current circumstances, I see no signs of the situation turning for the better in terms of the spread of the novel coronavirus. We are far from seeing an end to the pandemic, given the ever-increasing number of infections overseas and the risk of a second wave occurring in Japan.
Under these circumstances, Sophia University will take the following measures regarding Autumn Semester course offerings:
- Courses will basically be offered online.
- However, undermentioned courses with a high need for in-person classes may offer classes on campus while taking sufficient measures to avoid the COVID-19 infection;
• Experiments and practical subjects
• Subjects associated with teacher-training courses and license acquisition
• Courses associated with Graduate School degree requirements
Courses to be offered on campus will be announced in late July. Arrangements will be made for students who are registered for courses offered on campus but cannot come to campus. This measure is subject to change in accordance with developments in the spread of the novel coronavirus.
This was yet another difficult decision to make and I regret having to deliver this message to our students. However, our foremost priority continues to lie in securing the safety and maintaining the health of our students, faculty and staff, and their families. Sophia University still has many students taking classes from overseas, as they have not been able to travel back to Japan. More than 30 percent of our students take more than an hour to commute to university and quite a number of students find it inconvenient to travel back and forth from their homes outside the Tokyo Metropolitan area. We must keep in mind the circumstances faced by these students.
First year students have yet to experience a university education on campus and are leading a student life without sufficient communication with their friends and professors. Some of you may feel lost in a world completely different from what you have been familiar with up to high school. I am sure that students in their later years of university education find it more or less sad that your student lives have changed drastically. We are fully aware of your emotions and will make every effort to stay tuned to them. While continuing to offer classes online, we will seek ways to realize the hopes that you have embraced toward your student life and to take flexible approaches.
Thinking about each of you, I have no higher priority than to secure your safety. The same can be said for our faculty and staff, who as you, are members of our university community. Sophia University faces a wide-ranging struggle against the novel coronavirus: maintaining high standards of research and education, organizing a safe environment, and taking social responsibility. Please understand that amid the novel coronavirus crisis, it is difficult to make the decision to resume in-person classes based on changes in the situation that occurred over a limited period and that we can only make that decision when we have a medium- to long-term vision of future trends.
With a campus in the center of Tokyo, Sophia University has made efforts as a private university to create “a place where members with diverse backgrounds and gather and engage in discussion” while maintaining a small-group learning environment. We have no intention of giving up our commitment to this style of education, but feel a need to seek new ways as well. Our faculty and staff members are exploring new learning styles, advanced educational methods, and guaranteeing high- quality education. Even in this period of transition, we will offer high-quality educational opportunities unique to Sophia University. We are fully aware of the situation of and the challenges faced by our students, which were revealed in the recent questionnaire survey, and will make further efforts to resolve them.
A university can only function as a community comprising students, faculty and staff. We are determined to strive in the spirit of a community gathered in the early period of creating a new Sophia University vision.
I pray for the wellness of your souls and bodies. As members of Sophia University, let us fulfill our social responsibilities in our daily lives.